Tom Burkhardt

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BravinLee is very pleased to present artist books and book related wall works by Tom Burckhardt.   

John Yau on Tom Burckhardt:   "What is remarkable about the book cover paintings is that Burckhardt infuses the tension between abstraction and representation with freshness, enthusiasm, and humor. He has absorbed, and ultimately made his own, the layered space and interlocking forms of the Indian Space painters, while adding elements basic to both minimalism and New Image painting: monochromatic abstract shapes inscribed with lines, fields of dots, and repeated forms. The result is a masterful combination of the comical and the pathetic. The pain of being is inescapable, but, to Burckhardt’s credit, we feel sympathy rather than pity or sorrow. We have seen the schlub, and it is us. In this artist’s hands, the book becomes both a portrait and a mirror."

--John Yau, The Brooklyn Rail, October 6th, 2010

Burckhardt talks about his interest in using used books as a jumping off point:

I have been using and canibalizing old books for almost 30 years. The first impulses were to be anti-literal, erasing the text and meaning of the book with images that are inspired by Tantric and outsider art melded with modernist adbstraction. 

I love the density of images contained within a book, a kind of sandwich of experience. I also respond to the particular colors and textures of old book pages and the unique way they absorb inks.After some years of pulling pages out of books for individual drawings I thought it frugal to do something with the discarded book covers. I found that cutting the spine out and reversing one cover side against the other gave me a strong horizon or divide, as well as backcloth vs end paper that needed bridging with an integrating image.

Titles are always derived form the original book, giving me a strange, often emotional but disconnected title, as many are from pulpy novels destined to be forgotten, or dry technical manuals for outmoded fields.

I have always come back to the ongoing project with books after doing some large, ambitious, or conceptually dense batch of work- It’s intimate, playful, and easy to store in a clogged studio!